The weather can be so unpredictable, that is also something we saw in China. The first day in Yangshuo we enjoyed the sun on a bamboo float on the Yulong river. The next day was a totally different story. The rain kept on pouring out of the sky. Luckily, we had plans to do something indoors. We enrolled for a cooking class at Cloud 9 in the centre of Yangshuo. After two weeks of eating our way through China, it was time to cook something ourselves. I always hear such a great stories about cooking classes while traveling through a country. So I was pretty excited to try it in China. Let’s cook!
Browsing the local market
What do you do before you start cooking? Gather the ingredients, and the best place to do this is the market. Together with two Russian – American participants we headed to the nearby market-hall. This is the place where you can buy almost anything, ranging from traditional products like fish, meat and vegetables to some less traditional products like cats, dogs and cockroaches. Yes, that is also China. Understandably, I skipped that section of the market. At the vegetable stalls our cook showed us the vegetables you can buy in China. Of course, most of them I already knew because we have them in the west too, but some were new. For instance, I had never heard of lotus root. In China this is used to make soup. When I looked at it, I thought it was some kind of potatoe. Whoops!
Buying the ingredients at a local market
Cooking with beer and eggplant
Back in the cooking school we grabbed our aprons and cooking heads. The cook explained to us that we were cooking two local dishes from the Guilin region: beer fish and fried eggplant with garlic and chili. Both simple dishes that you can prepare under 30 minutes. Nice and quick! While my boyfriend focused on the beer fish, I put my attention to the eggplant dish. The cook was pretty strict about the way we had to cut the vegetables for both dishes. The spring onion had to be cut in similar pieces, the eggplant in long pieces and the paprika in some kind of zigzag shape. Then it was time to put all the ingredients in the wok and cook it on high heat. Even the use of the spatula came with guidance from our cook. I shoveled too much. As the cook explained to me, I had to stir the food in the centre of the wok. Obedient as I am, I followed this order. Probably it was good for the taste of the food (I hoped).
After a short 15 minutes of cooking everything was ready. It was time to taste our dishes, the most fun part of the course! My boyfriend focused on his beer fish and I took charge over the eggplant dish. The verdict? So good! Actually I rarely eat eggplant in the Netherlands, but after tasting the fried eggplant in Yangshuo I should eat it more often. To remind myself (and to inspire you) I put the recipe below. Enjoy!
Cooking the beer fish with actual beer!
Recipe: stir-fry eggplant with garlic and chili
Ingredients: 1 eggplant, 4 cloves garlic, 2 strings of spring onion, 1 red paprika, 1 green paprika, wok oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cornstarch, half teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon chili paste
Utensils: a wok, a teaspoon, a spatula and a big chopping knife. If you have one just like the horror knife in Yangshuo: perfect! If not, any other sharp knife will do the trick.
♦ Cut the eggplant in long pieces and soak it in a bowl with salt and water ♦ Slice the paprikas in strips and the spring onion in equal pieces ♦ Slice the garlic real thin ♦ Put some oil in the wok and turn on the heat wait until the work starts to smoke ♦ Turn the fire down and start baking the eggplant ♦ Add the garlic and the chili paste ♦ Add the paprikas, the cornstarch and a half glass of water ♦ To give it more flavor add the salt, the soy sauce and the sugar ♦ To top it all off, add the spring onion and the pepper and sesame oil.
Tadaa! The fried eggplant with garlic and chili.
More tips for Yangshuo
- The centre of Yangshuo is super touristy, but it is still worth the effort to walk around the famous West Street for one lazy evening. Take a look in the souvenir shops or walk around the market.
- You don’t eat at West Street, but you look for good restaurants in the alleys. We had a lovely vegetarian dinner at Pure Lotus. Check the colorful steamed buns!
- Beside cooking lessons, you could also take a calligraphy class of tai chi lessons in Yangshuo. Plenty of choice for a rainy afternoon in the city.
- And if it is sunny, I strongly suggest you go explore the karst mountains surrounding Yangshuo. So beautiful!
The tourist centre of Yangshuo
Have you ever taken a cooking class abroad?